Peace protester holds "no racism" sign in Jerusalem.
(photo credit:LIA KAMANA)
There was no violence, pushing or hatred in the crowd that gathered outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in the capital on Wednesday night.
Nearly 400 people marched from Hillel Street to the residence with a different message than the one delivered by angry right-wing protesters the previous night, that of peace.
Shouting could be heard, but only chants of “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies” and “Enough violence, enough racism.”
“People here believe in peace,” Ofer Cohen, a participant, said. “We believe it’s the right of all human beings to live in this country, no matter if you are a Jew or an Arab. Whatever – bring the peace.”
Still Cohen said he feels understanding toward the protesters at Tuesday’s protest/ riot.
“It’s hard for me to blame them, because all they see is hatred, war and people killing each other for many years,” he said. “The education here in schools, the speakers, the parliament and the Knesset don’t speak enough about the real solution for us, the Arabs and the Jews, which is peace.”
Before the march, about 1,000 people assembled for a peaceful protest against violence and racism organized by the Tag Meir organization that works against price-tag violence.
Wearing stickers reading “Enough” in Hebrew and Arabic, and carrying signs with slogans such as “There is no difference between blood and blood,” the demonstrators conversed with one another in Maccabi Mutsri Square pausing to sing songs and listen to speeches.
Those in attendance included members of the OneVoice Movement, which works to support a two-state solution and is against violence on both sides.
Member Elanit Green said, “Their [OneVoice’s] heart goes out to all the families on both sides of the conflict who are being affected.”
The assembly was interrupted by a group of adolescents who screamed at the protesters. The counter-protesters tried to start fights.
“Someone almost hit me just for being in this protest,” attendee Merav Tuchman said. “They said, ‘You’re left-wing, you are traitors, you love Arabs.’ I said, ‘It’s three kids [whom terrorists killed near Hebron on June 12], it doesn’t mean we have to kill more.’” A police officer escorted three of the right-wing boys away crying, and the rest left as the marchers continued to the Prime Minister’s Residence.
Another marcher, Elisha Golani said people on the street shouted at them, “Where were you when the three boys were kidnapped? Where were you during the past two weeks?” Golani said he attended the event because it was important to show people in Israel an alternative to violence.
“There is another way to deal with the kidnapping of the three boys,” he said.
Others agreed with him.
“Events of the last few days really brought home for Jerusalemites the need to show conviction, unity and understanding between the two communities,” said Tom Canning, the director of development at the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance.
His organization is the flagship for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Jerusalem. Canning said staff members and group activists were affected by the events of the past few days.
“I wish I could hug everyone and bring all the sides together,” one participant in the march said. “I want them to all feel the same love.”
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